Here in L.A., there are many high-profile figures, such as Hollywood celebrities, professional athletes and business moguls who are currently navigating serious marital problems. You might be one of them. You might be hesitant to file for a divorce in California or elsewhere because you know that the press or paparazzi will be all over your high-profile story.
Being in the limelight comes with the territory when you’re famous or wealthy. However, you have a right to privacy just like everyone else. The only problem is that divorce is a matter of public record. In fact, court proceedings are typically open to the public, as well. So, how can you be discreet and keep sensitive information out of the headlines? You can ask the judge who is overseeing your case to seal your divorce records.
The court will not automatically seal your divorce records
As mentioned earlier, divorce is a matter of public record. It is highly unlikely that a family court judge will grant a request to seal your entire divorce record. He or she may be willing to seal certain portions of it, though. Before filing a motion to request a seal on your divorce, it’s important to understand more about just cause, meaning a legitimate reason for making the request.
If you were to go before a judge and ask to seal your divorce simply because you are famous, the court might consider that partial treatment. If the average citizen cannot seal a divorce, why should the court allow a celebrity or athlete to do so? In fact, public status or financial status are mostly irrelevant regarding keeping divorce records out of the public eye. Anyone can file a motion whether they are famous or not.
Legitimate reasons for asking the court to seal your records
In most cases, judges may agree to seal part, but not all, of a divorce file. The following list provides several examples of valid reasons for requesting that the court seal portions of your record:
- You have minor children and believe it poses a safety risk to mention their names in the divorce record.
- Your record contains proprietary information about your business, which could give competitors an edge or place your assets at risk if it were to be public.
- Sealing the record would protect a victim of domestic violence.
- Your record contains sensitive health information that you do not want the public to know.
- There are details regarding child custody, travel plans or other information that create a safety risk for your family.
Your divorce might include more than one of these issues. By filing a motion to request a seal, the court can make specific information private while leaving the rest of the records open for public access.
Be cautious when giving an interview or using social media
It doesn’t make much sense for a California family court judge to seal your divorce records if you or your ex post about the same issues online or talk about it with reporters. If your goal is to remain discreet regarding sensitive information in your divorce, it is best to avoid posting about it online or openly discussing it in an interview.